Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 2021

The COVID-19 crisis had an unprecedented impact on our society. Regardless of speculation about what the “new normal” will be, no one is certain about what the future holds. The crisis has exposed the fragility of the current system’s functioning across the globe but has also provided a powerful lens to examine the underlying conditions that led to this fragility, and illuminated gaps in economic and social values chains, providing provided the opportunity to improve economic resilience and related issues.

South-South Cooperation, coupled with embracing new and innovative approaches, presents an opportunity to respond to the current health emergency and far-reaching socio-economic headwinds. Digital innovation reduces information and transaction costs, improves service delivery, creates new jobs, generates new revenue streams, and helps conserve resources. Since the beginning of the pandemic, innovators have been responding to the crisis with a progressive approach.

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The Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge aims to build a network of champions in developing-country ecosystems to:

  • accelerate the response to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • grasp the current innovation impetus and bring innovative digital solutions into international development, and reach out to entities which are usually in innovation’s frontlines activities;
  • leverage South-South cooperation networks, platforms and funding mechanisms to achieve impact at scale through sharing and replicating selected innovations; and
  • provide open access to resources from the international expert community and build entrepreneurship capabilities for innovators in governments, intergovernmental organizations, private sector and start-up companies, research institutions and academia, and CSOs.

The evaluation criteria below will be used by the selection committee for both the shortlisting of 20 to 25 best submissions, as well as and the final selection of the winning submissions. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for scoring.

  • 20% for Relevance: Incorporation of South-South and triangular cooperation as a modality for replications and scaling up to other developing countries. The innovation should demonstrate how it will increase peer-to- peer learning among the Global South.
  • 15% for Adaptability: Should demonstrate its adaptability and replicability to local context
  • 15% for Sustainability: Support sustainable and continuous response to Covid-19 crisis and its short or long-term impact.
  • 15% for Viability: Demonstrate viability of the solution in terms of its effectiveness and feasibility.
  • 20% for Partnership: Engagement with local partners in other developing countries to assure viability in local conditions, and to promote sustainability and scalability of the solution.
  • 15% for Impact: The innovation much showcase how it has the potential to impact lives and drive socio-economic benefit, most of all among vulnerable and excluded populations.


The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals will, through their appointed representatives:

  •  Attend a virtual boot camp to further refine their plans and their milestones (e.g., market entry, deployment, impact traction).
  • Will be provided with seed funding up to USD 25 000 to implement/improve/scale up their proposed solution(s), with mentorship and training support, in a new market (developing country) by end of April 2022 (subject to the presentation of a sound budget and workplan with clear milestones and budget allocation. The seed funding will be applied based on progress of implementation.) Both the seed funding will be provided by ITU subject to the terms and conditions of agreements signed between ITU and each winning institution/organization.
  •  Present virtually their digital innovation solutions/prototypes at UNOSSC’s annual Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo and ITU’s 2021 Global Innovation Forum, where they will also share knowledge and explore opportunities for potential partnerships.
  •  Be eligible for additional fundraising and resource mobilization support from UNOSSC through a crowdfunding window of the South-South Galaxy platform.


  • Only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries are eligible to participate in this challenge. The challenge is open to governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, private sector and start-ups, research institutions, academia, and civil society organization (CSOs).
  • Applying organizations/institutions must have an existing project or minimum viable product (MVP) that:
    • promotes South-South cooperation by replicating or scaling up existing innovations with a potential partner/country in the South,
    • demonstrates a new innovative project/prototype, outlining its potential for scaling up through South-South cooperation, and
    • is a digital solution
  • Only one submission per applying organization/institution is permitted (in case of multiple submissions, only the first one received will be considered).
  • All submissions must be made in the English language only.
  • Applying organizations/institutions will be required to submit proof of their legal registration.
Eligible Regions: Applicants from developing countries

Application Process

  • Submissions are only possible via email to [email protected]
  • You will also have to register your innovative digital solution which is described in your submission at the dedicated link

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Application Deadline: July 15, 2021

Application ClosedOfficial link

For Further Queries

For any additional information, please visit the official website.
Disclaimer: Youth Opportunities spreads opportunities for your convenience and ease based on available information, and thus, does not take any responsibility of unintended alternative or inaccurate information. As this is not the official page, we recommend you to visit the official website of opportunity provider for complete information. For organizations, this opportunity is shared with sole purpose of promoting “Access to Information” for all and should not be associated with any other purposes.

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